Tacos: the emblem of Mexican cuisine and culture

Mexican taco is much more than just-food. Emblematic of its cuisine and culture, every day it evolves and expands internationally with a varied offer.

Tacos: the emblem of Mexican cuisine and culture
Tacos are a symbol of Mexican cuisine and culture. Image by Constanze Riechert-Kurtze from Pixabay

The taco is much more than food for Mexico. Emblem of its cuisine and culture, every day it evolves and expands internationally with a varied offer that combines, with corn or flour tortillas, tradition and novelty.

"Everyone likes tacos," Carlos Ceballos, a bricklayer, tells Efe while tasting some of them, overflowing with salsa, at the foot of the construction site where he works with his brother and father. The three Ceballos, totally unaware that this Wednesday is Taco Day, eat in a corridor with several street taquerias in the Roma neighborhood in Mexico City, although lunch breaks are not long at the construction site.

"You're in a hurry and you get a craving on the street, you have to have time for everything," he smiles sitting at a traditional stand, with garnishes and sauces overflowing the counter so customers can dispose of them as they please.

The most traditional food

Carlos' tacos have just come from the hand of Sandra Hernandez, regent of El Morocho taqueria, who proudly confirms that the taco "for every Mexican is the most primordial thing he or she eats."

"You leave the house to work, you don't have time to cook and anywhere you go you grab a taco and eat", she assures while she watches out of the corner of her eye that no one is left unattended. Patricia Álvarez's plate is ready, a customer who should be taken care of, since she goes daily to this corridor at the intersection of Álvaro Obregón and Insurgentes because she works "very close to there". "We have varieties of suadero, combined, head, beef head, pork. In other words, an infinity of things," boasts Álvarez about Mexican food, also happy with the international tone that tacos are acquiring.

On her side, warns the taquera, "the idea of taco (of foreigners) is not the same" as in Mexico, her place of origin. "French, Spanish, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Australians, Russians have come," Hernandez says of her stand, and everyone "leaves happier" after getting to know an original taco. "Maybe they have the idea but they don't know what a taco is. A lot of foreigners have come here and they say 'I wouldn't eat a taco like that'.

It has nothing to do with it. They have the tradition of a taco that is not," she stresses, happy that her taqueria has satisfied international customers. FOR EVERY POCKET. If foreigners fall in love with street tacos, the most democratic for Mexico City residents are the cheap tacos de canasta, which can be bought for around 5 pesos per unit (0.25 dollars).

"They are very classic Mexico City and are only of a certain flavor. The classics are chicharrón, potato, and bean, many times they are made with adobo and mole verde," says Africa, a street vendor of canasta tacos.

This type of food even has a different appearance, more similar to that of a closed quesadilla than to the roll that ends up forming the taco. Just as varied is the taco offer as the time at which they are eaten, which is none other than "any time you are hungry". Whether "in the morning, in the afternoon, at night or in the early morning", says Africa.

Vegan twist

The polar opposite of the historic tacos de canasta is the vegan tacos, which is little more than five years have been gaining a foothold in the wealthy neighborhoods of the Mexican capital. Luis Rodríguez, the founder of the Por siempre vegan taqueria, the first of its kind in Mexico City, says that in seven years of life the acceptance of his products is "incredible". A cook prepares wheat-based vegan tacos in CDMX.

"Most of the tacos are marinated, and those marinades are the ones we also make. We just change the main input, it's not the same. Our main (ingredients) are wheat, soy, and mushrooms," he explains.

Vegan tacos are also expanding internationally, as confirmed by Luis' discovery of a vegan "trompo de pastor" in the United Kingdom, simulating the typical taco meat of Mexico City.

"We are living in a time in which we have seen a lot of progress in what is the idea of vegan thinking. There has been much more awareness," he says. An Ecuadorian customer, Nataly Vélez, confirms Luis' statements about his products, very similar to those she tried before becoming vegan.

"I can't say this one is better because they taste very much the same," she says with the smile of someone holding two corn tortillas in her hands.